What is the Third Wave and what about a 4th?

There is a thing known as the Third Wave...something started back in 2002 or so....where alot of attention started to be placed on all parts of the coffee business.....from growing methods, to tree stock, to cultivation, preparation, trading practices, roasting, packing and final brewing. It has been an incredible effort toward making coffee much better and more consistent. The third wave mean in its most base sense that coffee was graduating to something more than just the #2 commodity in the world. Coffee could be truly amazing and if done really well could be likened to a fine wine.

Roasters began understanding the flavor constructs of the coffee. Noses around the world began to really take notice that coffee was a unique thing and if attention was paid, folks would really, truly discern the difference between a cup of Papua New Guinea and Bali......pretty close relatives....just as easily as they may taste the gap between Kona and Ethiopia Harrar.

And for the most part this has been a positive. Coffee has been produced with fewer defects, better polishing, more consistent wetness in the green form, roast profiles have pushed boundaries to try and get the coffee 'dialed' in right and all manner of brewing methodologies have come to existence. Even thought there has been alot of dilution to the term, 'Specialty Coffee' by the number of corporate outlets in so many locations that drive away local business opportunities, overall, coffee is alot better and we are the better for it.

Howeve that does not mean all is well. In the end coffee is a delicate thing; and as we have said for a long time, the closer you get to the brewed cup the more important it is to do it right. Unfortunately we have seen alot of bad coffee these days and it really is frustrating...with all th effort being put forth, the stuff on the counter is not necessarily what you deserve.

If the third wave were so successful, then why when we visit shops that purport to be 'specialty coffee' houses do we see such deriliction such as airpots left sitting and stale coffee for sale by the bag? Why do counter folks not have a clue about which coffee's to sell?

Why are we asked: do you want a "medium roast" or "dark roast".....what coffee are you serving? I mean if we were in the throws of a decade long third wave, then we surely would know there is more than medium or dark......

Then again, maybe its just us. We are perfectionists and we simply love coffee.

We think there is more, and its next. It's the next wave, perhaps the 4th wave.

Great coffee all the time. Simple varietal descriptions that make people happy, forget nuances of coriander or jasmine. How about what makes the coffee unique. Folks will be much more in love with a coffee they can connect to than a couple of more than 600 tastes the tongue can discern. The time is now for less pomp and more circumstance, as it were.

1 comment

  • William F Mihok

    Keep me on you email list. Hope you are up and running soon.
    Bill Mihok of Williamsburg

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